Header Image (book)


Sunday, March 3, 2013

Musical Interlude

(If you must have politics, please scroll down)

I miss Henry Mancini (1924-1994), whom Mr. AOW and I saw live twice when he conducted the National Symphony Orchestra — and his jazz combo too, of course.

"The Pink Panther," "Baby Elephant Walk," and "Peter Gunn" (apologies for the abrupt ending of the version below):

The theme from The Thornbirds:

Henry Mancini web site


  1. The photos with the Thorn Birds are beautiful.

  2. Thanks for the Wiki link.
    I remember being astounded when he died at the breadth of his work that I wasn't aware of, and today I was again.
    And a veteran.

  3. Henry Mancini was a remarkably versatile composer. He even wrote one symphony, which I had the pleasure of hearing a portion of during one of the concerts I mentioned in the body of the blog post.

    He was much more than a composer of incidental (film) music.

  4. Conservatives on Fire,
    Those may be photos of Australia.

  5. From this source:

    “There is a legend about a bird which sings just once in its life, more sweetly than any other creature on the face of the earth. From the moment it leaves the nest it searches for a thorn tree, and does not rest until it has found one. Then, singing among the savage branches, it impales itself upon the longest, sharpest spine. And, dying, it rises above its own agony to outcarol the lark and the nightingale. One superlative song, existence the price. But the whole world stills to listen, and God in His heaven smiles. For the best is only bought at the cost of great pain… Or so says the legend.”
    ― Colleen McCullough, The Thorn Birds

    From the same source:

    “There are no ambitions noble enough to justify breaking someone's heart.”
    ― Colleen McCullough, The Thorn Birds

    “When we press the thorn to our chest we know, we understand, and still we do it.”
    ― Colleen McCullough, The Thorn Birds

    “Each of us has something within us which won't be denied, even if it makes us scream aloud to die. We are what we are, that's all. Like the old Celtic legend of the bird with the thorn in its breast, singing its heart out and dying. Because it has to, its self-knowledge can't affect or change the outcome, can it? Everyone singing his own little song, convinced it's the most wonderful song the world has ever heard. Don't you see? We create our own thorns, and never stop to count the cost. All we can do is suffer the pain, and tell ourselves it was well worth it.”
    ― Colleen McCullough, The Thorn Birds

    The novel The Thorn Birds is worth reading.

  6. Thanks for the memories. I read the Thorn Birds many years ago and recall the controversy .

  7. I'm always reminded of an episode of Archie Bunker. Edith keeps crying and someone finally figures out it is because it is "Henry Mancini's birthday". Edith keeps saying "Henry Mancini's birthday, Henry Mancini ..." in that awful accent of hers. I don't know why that stuck in my mind. It was a funny show.

    Right Truth

  8. Your selections certainly showcased Mancini's versatility.

  9. I love it! Of course, for me it takes me back to classic cartoons... But still, brilliant!

  10. The Thorn Birds was, indeed, a wonderful read. The miniseries made for television that followed was equally good. Mancini's "background music" undoubtedly had a lot to do with the success of the production.

    Of course having the mature Jean Simmons and Barbara Stanwyck in key roles along with Richard Chamberlain, then in his late forties, as an ambitious priest whose devotion the Church and his determination to climb all the way to the Vatican made it all too easy for him to break women's hearts.

    The house in The Thorn Birds, which took place in Australia, was called Drogheda. I did not realize until many years later that Drogheda was the town in Ireland where Cromwell and his not-so-merry men in an act of barbaric religious persecution brutally murdered nearly every inhabitant including the women and children.

    Knowing that now, the setting of The Thorn Birds takes on even greater poignancy.

    Mancini's music along with the beautiful photographs that accompany it captures very well the amalgamation of longing, acute suffering and deep pleasure of which human life is comprised.

    For each ecstatic instant
    We must an anguish pay --
    In keen and quivering ratio
    To the ecstasy.

    For each beloved hour
    Sharp pittances of years --
    Bitter, contested farthings --
    And coffers heaped with tears.

    ~ Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)

  11. FT,
    I'm going to read The Thorn Birds again. I've put a reserve on a library copy.

    Lately, I've been rereading books that I loved the first time around. I find doing this revisiting is a worthwhile endeavor.

  12. FT,
    We must an anguish pay --
    In keen and quivering ratio
    To the ecstasy.

    As we get older, we discover that the above is all too true.

  13. I've been a Mancini fan from day one, have pretty much all his music. Right now Ravel's Bolero by Mancini is coming sweetly out of my PC speakers.

  14. Black Sheep,
    I've been a Mancini fan ever since I heard Peter Gunn, the theme music for a TV show of the same name. My cousin, 10 years older than I, watched that show every week. I didn't understand the show, but I loved the music.

    As a pianist, Mancini was not a virtuoso. As a composer, Mancini was not a virtuoso; as a composer and an arranger, he was a genius.

    One of his lesser known pieces is the theme for The Molly Maguires. Do you happen to know the piece?

  15. I hate to tell you, but Ravel's Bolero is by Maurice Ravel not Henry Mancini.

    That's okay as long as you enjoy it.

    I. Woodby Proff

  16. I. Woodby Proff,
    Apparently, Mancini did conduct an arrangement of Ravel's "Bolero."


We welcome civil dialogue at Always on Watch. Comments that include any of the following are subject to deletion:
1. Any use of profanity or abusive language
2. Off topic comments and spam
3. Use of personal invective

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.